Here is a brand new and big word – you might have to ask someone for help. Entourage. Pope Benedict XVI just came back from visiting Australia, on the other side of the world. And when he (or the president, or the Queen of England, or other leaders) travels he brings a group of people with him to help make the trip go well. This group is called an entourage.
In the entourage would be someone to make the arrangements with world leaders. There would be someone to talk to the people who work for newspapers and television stations. There would be someone who knows about the ceremonies the pope has to lead. There would be someone to take care of the pope’s clothes and other people to help with all the languages that are used when a pope travels. Sometimes an entourage is small, sometimes large. The pope has about thirty people in his entourage.
Angels are the entourage of Jesus! A bit of heaven came to earth with Jesus when he was born at Bethlehem. Do you remember on Christmas night, the angels told the shepherds to go and see the Holy Infant in the cave? Then other angels sang, “Glory to God...!” in the night sky.
When Jesus was in the desert for Forty Days he was tempted to be selfish, he was hungry and suffered the desert-extremes of cold and heat. Maybe he was lonely. But angels came to help him.
When Jesus was alone in the Garden of Olives the night before he died, he was afraid while his friends fell asleep. An angel came to comfort him.
On Easter morning, when the women-friends came to the tomb in the cemetery to take care of the body of Jesus, an angel met them and told them to tell the apostles that Jesus was risen from the dead!
Angels appeared in the sky when Jesus ascended into heaven forty days after Easter.
When angels appear to us, they first say, “Do not be afraid.” Angels come with messages from God and if we saw one or heard one, we probably would be frightened at first. But while God surely wants us to pay attention, he doesn’t want us to be afraid.
And our Catholic faith tells us that we each have a Guardian Angel to watch over us, guide us, protect us. Isn’t that wonderful and exciting? God knows that I exist! God cares that I exist! I can even pray to my angel in the morning and at night. I can pray to my angel when I’m worried or disappointed, lonely or tired.
Here is a painting of the Angel Gabriel telling the Virgin Mary that she will become the Mother of Jesus: The First Joyful Mystery of the Rosary: The Annunciation. Read the story in your bible (Luke: chapter 1 – verses 26-38).
Here is a mosaic (a picture made from little pieces of colored glass or tile) of Mary with the little Jesus in the cave of Bethlehem. Angels fill the sky with happy news of the Baby’s birth. Joseph is in the bottom looking confused: he is not the father of the Baby. The donkey and the cow are in the cave with Jesus. They seem to know who He is – better than many people! See the star in the sky marking where the magi will find Jesus!
Here’s another mosaic from the Basilica (great church) of Saint Mary Major in Rome. It shows the three magi bringing gifts to the Infant. Find this story in your bible (Matthew: chapter 2 – verses 1-12) Here Mary is like a throne – a heaven on earth for Jesus. An angel flies ahead. He seems to be saying, “This way, this way!”
Angels still say to us, “This way, this way!” This way – away from doing dangerous things, away from hatred, away from lies and being lazy, selfish, rude, nasty and sneaky. This way to Jesus – worshipping him, praying to him, listening to him, thanking him, loving him.
And here is a picture of Saint Matthew listening to an angel who is telling him how to write the gospel story of the life and teachings of Jesus.
Oh holy angel, teach me about the love of God. Teach me how to please God. Like Saint Matthew, I am listening! Amen!